Mountain schools gear up for snowy, cold football season in February

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ASPEN, Colo. (KDVR) — With the Colorado High School Activities Association’s decision to move the start of football season to February, mountain schools face challenges with heavy snow and cold temperatures in the high country.

Martha Richards is the Athletic Director at Aspen High School. She said mountain schools will face more obstacles than schools along the front range with football season pushed back to February.

“I think the mountain schools are way more challenged than the Denver metro merely because of weather and temperatures,” she said.

Richards said athletes in spring sports play through harsh conditions in early spring and now other sports like football and boys’ soccer will get a feel for playing in those elements.

“I think football and boys’ soccer will get a little taste of what our spring sports have to go through,” said Richards.

Crews can plow Aspen High School’s turf field, but they can’t change the temperature.

“That sun goes down behind Buttermilk Mountain about 30 minutes earlier than elsewhere. The temperature drops and it’s cold. Even though we have lights and a field we can plow, it’s hard to practice after 5:30 p.m. because of temperatures,” said Richards.

Despite the concerns, Ricards said she agrees with CHSAA’s decision.

 “This was not easy and given everything they are trying to squeeze in, they came up with a good plan,” said Richards.

At Battle Mountain High School in Vail, Jim Schuppler is gearing up for his most interesting year yet as head coach for the school’s varsity football team.

“This is uncharted territory,” said Schuppler. “It’s going to be unique playing football in Vail in February, March and April — some of our snowiest months.”

He said his team will hold practice inside the school’s gym and a nearby indoor field during inclement weather. However, he said he plans to practice outside as much as possible to prepare his players for harsh conditions during games.

“I grew up in northern Wisconsin. I love playing in the weather and the elements and I think our boys will thrive in it and may even turn into our advantage since we are used to it,” said Schuppler.

Ski season will now coincide with football season. Schuppler said he won’t make his players choose between the two.

“We let the kids be who they are — which is mountain boys — so they’ll be on the mountain and come to practice Monday and that’s how we like it here,” said Schuppler.

Despite the harsh conditions expected this winter, Schuppler said he’s grateful the season is happening at all.

“Honestly I was relieved because I was worried about not having a season at all. There has been worry about weather and all those things but I don’t care. But we just wanted a chance to play,” said Schuppler.

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